April 7, 2018, 5:34 pm
The Lakers came into their matchup with Minnesota extremely short-handed, missing key players Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Isaiah Thomas. They had been able to remain competitive, even earning a victory over the Spurs on Wednesday, primarily due to the efforts of their frontcourt and in particular Kyle Kuzma, who was already playing through an ankle injury. The damn finally broke Friday night as Kuzma left the game in the third quarter after sustaining a sprained ankle and the Lakers crumbled, resulting in a final score of 113-96.
Brook Lopez kept Los Angeles in the game early on, scoring the Lakers’ first 15 points en route to a 15-14 start.
The Lakers held a 12-point lead after a 20-4 run towards the end of the second quarter, giving their fans hope that they may play spoiler to the Timberwolves.
However, the second half was a different story. Minnesota played with renewed energy and defensive focus, outscoring the Lakers by 10 points even before Kuzma was forced from the game. Overall, the third quarter was 29-15 in the Timberwolves’ advantage.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Lakers didn’t have the necessary remaining quality of players, energy or tenacity — losing the period by double-digits as well.
The Timberwolves were led by their backcourt duo of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, who were both recovering from their respective knee injuries. Butler, playing in his first game back from a 17-game absence, set the defensive tone for Minnesota in the second half, finishing the game with four steals to go along with 18 points, two rebounds and one assist on 7-of-10 shooting. He did show some rust at the charity stripe where he converted only 4-of-8 attempts.
Teague gave the currently point guard challenged Lakers fits all night, leading the Timberwolves with 25 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals while shooting 9-of-16 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the line.
The Lakers continued to do a good job this season of limiting Karl-Anthony Towns’ scoring output, but he was excellent in other areas of the game, contributing 14 points, 11 rebound, four assists, two steals, three blocks and a game-high plus-30 rating.
Taj Gibson, on the other hand, continued to torment the Lakers to the tune of 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a plus-19 rating while shooting 8-of-13 from the floor.
Los Angeles was led by Julius Randle, who chipped-in 20 points, 10 rebounds and two assists while knocking down 5-of-11 from the field and an impressive 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He did unfortunately lead the team with five turnovers and earn a minus-14 rating for the game.
Kyle Kuzma struggled in his 18 minutes before the leaving the game, going 1-of-6 from the floor for two points, three rebounds, one block and a whopping four turnovers.
Lopez only scored three more points after his first quarter outburst, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and a minus-14 rating on 7-of-10 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the line. Perhaps it would have behooved the Lakers to rely on him more in a game when many of their starters struggled.
Josh Hart provided Los Angeles a nice lift of the bench with 20 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Another positive bench contribution for the Lakers came from Ivica Zubac, who added 14 points and nine rebounds on 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line.
Key Stats and Observations
-There were a plethora of rebounds available as neither team shot well on Friday. The Lakers led the way with 63 rebounds compared to 55 for the Timberwolves. However, the Lakers conceded 18 offensive rebounds to Minnesota.
-For the season, Los Angeles leads the league in points in the paint. That was not the case on Friday as the Timberwolves crushed them in that regard, accruing a 62-44 edge in the key. Second-chance points and easy transition baskets off of turnovers were a contributing factor. .
-One glaring statistic was a drastic turnover differential between the teams with the Lakers committing 21 compared to only five for the Timberwolves. The corresponding 30-7 disparity in points off of turnovers was one of the pivotal factors in the loss.
-The Lakers were missing many of their leading playmakers resulting in only 16 assists vs. 25 for Minnesota.
-Los Angeles had an excellent night at the free throw line, converting 26-of-32 (81.3 percent) compared to 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) for Minnesota. They also had an advantage from long distance making 8-of-24 (33.3 percent) while the Timberwolves 8-of-26 (30.8 percent). The Lakers struggled from 2-point range making only 23-of-55 (41.8 percent) while the Timberwolves knocked down 35-of-74 (47.3 percent).
-The 2-point shooting attempts illustrates a crucial element in the loss: Due to the disparity in turnovers and offensive rebounds, Minnesota took 21 more shot attempts than the Lakers.
The Lakers host the Utah Jazz for a matinee game on Sunday.
Utah is one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 27-of-32 to ascend to the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings.
With the Jazz in rhythm and the Lakers missing key players, this promises to be a very tough matchup.
The Jazz backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell combined to go for 57 points on 20-of-37 shooting in the last meeting between the two teams, a 117-110 win for Utah this past Tuesday. The Lakers kept that game close by shooting 14-of-28 from 3-point range — they will need a similar effort to stay in contention on Sunday.
May 23, 2019, 9:21 amKiki VanDeWeghe - Team - Brooklyn Nets
The NBA has cancelled the 2019 NBA Global Camp due to "logistical issues" but they plan to have it return in the future.
The NBA Global Camp is essentially a draft combine for international players. There originally was the Adidias EuroCamp that ran from 2003-2017, but was stopped after the FBI's investigation into college basketball corruption. The NBA picked it up and had success in it's first year last year. Unfortunately, it appears the venue in Monaco was double-booked due to AS Monaco turning their season around and needing the facility for TV production and practice for their playoffs. Many international draft prospects entered the draft early with the hopes of getting to workout and interview with teams at the Global Camp.
Source: Jonathan Givony on ESPN
May 23, 2019, 9:05 amMyles Turner - F/C - Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner tweeted that it is a "Blatant Disrespect" he did not make an All-Defensive team.
While Turner had a phenomenal defensive season, there are only two spots overall for centers, so someone was going to be left off. Rudy Gobert was the center on the first team and is a finalist for DPOY, while Joel Embiid was the center on the second team and had a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball for the Sixers. Turner had a marvelous season defensively and there is an argument to be made for him over Embiid, but the nature of positions on the All-Defensive teams means someone was getting left off.
Source: Myles Turner on Twitter
May 23, 2019, 8:59 amRichaun Holmes - F/C - Phoenix Suns
Richaun Holmes was arrested on Wednesday night for a misdemeanor marijuana charge in Miami-Dade.
It's the second time a Suns player has been arrested in Miami-Dade, the southeastern-most county in Florida, this month – Josh Jackson was arrested at Rolling Loud, a music festival. Holmes was ironically booked as "Richard" Holmes, which we would certainly spin as an ode to how underrated he is. James Webb, who last played for the Nets in 2017-18, was also arrested. They were charged with possession of cannabis and spent a few hours in jail before posting bond. We'll see if this has any affect on Holmes' upcoming free agency.
Source: David Ovalle on Miami Herald
May 23, 2019, 8:45 amFred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet credited the birth of his son, Fred Jr., on Monday night for his turnaround in Game 4.
FVV said regarding his shooting woes, "Obviously it's been rough shooting the ball. I had a pretty bad stretch, so it was good to see one go in." It would make sense that he could relax mentally now that his son, his second child, was born. A big congrats to the VanVleet family on the birth of their second child; we'll see if FVV can keep the strong play going in a pivotal Game 5 in Milwaukee.
Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter
May 23, 2019, 8:29 amMiles Bridges - F - Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges tweeted on Tuesday that he was not snubbed from the All-Rookie teams.
"I didn't get snubbed. I played like ass all year. I don't deserve to be on any team. Next year will be different," was Bridges' full tweet. He had an alright rookie season, especially when given the opportunity. All 25 of his games played after the All-Star break were starts and he averaged 9.6 points, 5.3 boards, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks and 1.1 threes on 49.0%/35.1%/83.3% shooting splits in 26.2 minutes per game. There's a lot of athleticism and untapped potential that could bear fruit in year two, especially if Kemba Walker is not with the team and there's a lot more usage to go around.
Source: Miles Bridges on Twitter
May 22, 2019, 9:28 pmKristaps Porzingis - F/C - Dallas Mavericks
Knicks president Steve Mills claimed that Kristaps Porzingis threatened to return to Europe had the Knicks not completed a trade elsewhere according to Kurt Heln of NBC Sports
The tense history between Porzingis and the Knicks front office has been well documented, which makes a startling headline like this one not all that surprising. It's safe to assume that Dallas' front office will not be hearing such requests, as they represent an opportunity for optimism for both Porzingis and their franchise as a whole.
Source: NBC Sports
May 22, 2019, 6:28 pmTacko Fall - C - College
Tacko Fall of UCF, Marques Bolden of Duke, Nick Weiler-Babb of Iowa State, Jalen Hudson of Florida, Amir Hinton of Shaw University and Myles Powell of Seton Hall will all be participants of the Kings pre-draft workout.
All of the players that will be working out for the Kings are not projected to be drafted next month. The Kings are looking at guys for their second round selections as they have three picks in that round. Unfortunately, those are the only picks they have this year as their first round selection is owned by the Celtics. Expect the Kings to continue to look at players with high ceilings like Tacko Fall. Fall, a 7’7″ center has a 10’2″ standing reach and an 8’2″ wingspan. These measurements are why Fall will get to the NBA at some point. The question of how big of an impact he will make remains to be seen. Perhaps the Kings will draft the large center with one of their three second round picks.
Source: Deuce Mason on Twitter
May 22, 2019, 5:37 pmPatrick McCaw - SG/SF - Toronto Raptors
Patrick McCaw (personal reasons) will remain sidelined for Thursday's Game 5 vs. the Bucks.
McCaw has missed the entire ECF thus far due to personal reasons. The basketball community hopes the best for the youngster. Even if he were to come back, he wouldn't be in line for many minutes as Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet have established themselves as part of the team's shortened eight man rotation.
Source: NBA Injury Report
May 22, 2019, 5:09 pmOG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors
Head coach Nick Nurse told the media that OG Anunoby (appendectomy) is still without a timetable to return but said that he's doing more every day.
Anunoby has missed the entire playoffs after suffering an emergency appendectomy. Now that Game 6 is necessary and there is a greater likelihood that there will be a Game 7, the chances improve that we see Anunoby return to the court to face the Bucks. The Raptors could use another long versatile defender to throw at the Greek Freak and his teammates. Continue to stay tuned to how Anunoby continues to progress on the court to see if he will be able to return this series.
Source: Michael Grange on Twitter
May 22, 2019, 11:41 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Danny Green never believed Kawhi Leonard was anything but legitimately hurt last year and back-to-back brilliant performances the last two games reinforces how serious the injury was.
“He’s playing through pain,” Danny Green said to a handful of reporters, long after Leonard left the locker room. “He can’t even celebrate baskets because of how painful it is.” For the last couple games Kawhi has dragged around his right leg like there was a nail hammered into it while the Raptors won’t admit there is a problem. Toronto’s bench was brilliant yesterday carrying the team to a victory and with Game 5 set to take place on Thursday Leonard won’t have much time to rest.
Source: Sports Illustrated